MCSO Public Information Officer Brian Lee May Have Helped Write “A Question of Eligibility ” eBook

Zullo ebook coerReality Check Radio has obtained a copy of the metadata from the Word version of the eBook authored by Jerome Corsi and Mike Zullo that was sold for profit on Amazon starting the same day as the first Cold Case Posse press conference on March 1, 2012. As can be seen in the screenshots of the metadata below the author is Brian Lee and the company is the Maricopa County Sheriff’s department. At that time Brian Lee was the Public Information Officer for Sheriff Joe Arpaio and the MCSO.

Jerome Corsi is also listed as someone who edited the Word document. Mike Zullo, Corsi’s co-author is not listed in the metadata on this version.

Here is the metadata from Word and Windows:

Question of Eligibility Meta Data

Question of Eligibility Windows Meta

The possible participation of Lt. Lee in the writing of the book is more proof that Sheriff Arapio may not have been truthful when he claimed that no public funds were being used on the investigation into President Obama’s birth certificate.

Some questions that come to mind:

  • What was the extent of Lt. Lee’s participation?
  • Did he profit from the sale of the book?
  • What part of the book did Mike Zullo write if any?
  • Why was the MCSO contributing  to a book and allowing it to be written on county computers when it was for the benefit of private individuals? Why was a high ranking deputy involved?
  • Was this violation of MCSO guidelines that prohibit a work product from being sold for profit of individuals?

We know that Mike Zullo profited from the sale of “A Question of Eligibility”. He admitted this when confronted by reporters but rationalized that he had “given the money to his church”.

I will have more on Deputy Lee and the book in the next article.

Update: As a couple of folks have astutely pointed out Word metadata is not ironclad proof that Brian Lee was an author. We know that either Joe Arpaio or a spokesperson like Lt. Lee provided the forward to the eBook. His involvement may have been limited to that or loaning a computer to Mike Zullo. I believe my questions listed above are valid however. The fact remains that two Posse members, Mike Zullo and Jerome Corsi, sold and profited from selling the work product of the Cold Case Posse. This report could have been posted on the MSCO web site in five minutes if the goal was to “get the word out” as Arpaio has claimed.

Accordingly, I have changed the title to reflect the fact that the metadata alone is not conclusive that Deputy Lee was an author.

 

About these ads
This entry was posted in Birth Certificate, Birthers, Cold Case Posse, Jerome Corsi, Mike Zullo and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to MCSO Public Information Officer Brian Lee May Have Helped Write “A Question of Eligibility ” eBook

  1. Arrogantlyignorant says:

    Too bad he didn’t learn about Xerox metadata scrubbing features a couple years back. Oooops :D

  2. Ran Talbott says:

    “The participation of Lt. Lee in the writing of the book is more proof that Sheriff Arapio may not have been truthful when he claimed that no public funds were being used on the investigation into President Obama’s birth certificate.”

    Mmm … no.

    What you have is probable cause indicating that a copy of Word registered in Lee’s name was likely used in the writing of the book. At some point, as yet unknown. To some extent, as yet unknown. It’s “an investigative lead”, not “proof”.

    Setting aside the conspiracy-theory-style explanations like “somebody modified the metadata”, there are other quite credible possibilities. Some even innocent.

    1. Zullo borrowed Lee’s MCSO laptop.

    2. Zullo or Lee pirated an MCSO copy of Word.

    3. Lee had a legitimate copy of Word on his own laptop, that he used on his own time, but put the MCSO organization name on it in hopes it would improve the chances of recovery if it were stolen.

    4. Zullo or Corsi used some document Lee had sent out as a “template”, because it had the formats for fonts, paragraphing, etc that they wanted.

    5 If Zullo started the writing, he might’ve asked the more tech-savvy Lee to set up the formatting for him.

    So, the final result of “an official law enforcement investigation” could fall anywhere on the spectrum from “Lee had no knowing involvement”, to “Lee did the equivalent of borrowing a flywheel puller from the motor pool to fix his personal car”, to “Lee committed a serious crime by moonlighting as a professional writer on MCSO time”.

    Do let’s not go all Zullo on the possibly-innocent Mr. Lee.

  3. You make some good points and I would certainly give Lt. Lee the opportunity to give an explanation. A LEO giving a private citizen access to his laptop or desktop with private files and emails would be poor judgement on his part. In the corporate computing environments that I have worked each user has an MS Office profile that is associated with his account that loads when logging into the network. It is a strictly forbidden to let someone log in with your ID and password. Not to say it doesn’t happen of course.

  4. johnvanpelt187262334 says:

    What Ran said. My experience — particularly of PowerPoint, but some of the principles apply to other members of the Office suite — is that the “author” metadata is NOT derived from any credentialed profile or interaction, but simply lives in each document in question. It was a constant bother when I published a PowerPoint at work for which I *wanted* to receive credit, to have to remember to go to the metadata settings and check if it had picked up the author name of some prior user, based on the template I started with or even — with “save as” — a different document. If Word works similarly, Zullo or Corsi or anyone could legitimately have had some official MCSO document, liked its formatting characteristics, and started with a “Save As” — thus unknowingly adopting Brian Lee’s authorship.

    On the other hand, only the strictest sense of fair play prevents me from being totally thrilled that someone at MCSO might get their panties twisted based on your conspiratorial interpretation, and that Zullo or anyone might have to backpedal or explain — given how often and how thoroughly the CCP and Corsi have tried to do the reverse to the President. And we know that you will refine your assumptions as you learn more, something *they* would never do.

  5. Spike says:

    Let me add…

    6 Computer equipment is generally only retained for a finite period of time before being replaced. A PC previously used by Lee for official business reaches this point in its lifecycle. The still functioning, but out of date machine, is given to the CCP, because it’s free. The laptop is then used, without formatting so the existing software is preserved, to create the eBook.

    I’ve seen this occur more than a few times in the past, although it is pretty standard practice (although not always adhered to) to scrub the laptop before transferring ownership. If it was viewed as an “internal transfer” then maybe this wouldn’t be adhered to so strictly – particularly if scrubbing it meant there would be software costs in continuing to use it.

  6. I am open to these alternative explanations and appreciate the discussions. I think the fact that Lee was the Public Information Officer adds to the evidence he was involved however. This book and the entire CCP investigation for that matter was really about PR. I don’t think rational people (i. e. non-Birthers) would contest my observation.

  7. Spike says:

    I’m not sure I’d classify it as evidence as yet – there are several explanations which, if correct, would make his role a coincidence, rather than evidence.

    I agree completely that the CCP “investigation” is pure PR, and that this is worthy of further research, to the extent that that is possible, but there is still some way to go before identifying Lee as an author is justifiable given what’s been seen so far.

  8. CarlOrcas says:

    RC,
    For both the MCSO and the Cold Case Posse the investigation was really about money: Money for Arpaio’s campaign and money for Zullo’s private corporation.

    As far as the possible explanations for Lee’s name appearing on the document they would, if true, indicate more mismanagement by the MCSO. The county had a big blow up about computer system security and access a few years ago.

  9. Ran Talbott says:

    A LEO giving a private citizen access to his laptop or desktop with private files and emails would be poor judgement on his part.

    Yup. And, if he did that, he should be disciplined. Unless Arpaio told him to: in that case, Arpaio should be.

    And if it turns out he was writing on MCSO time, I’d say he should be prosecuted, fined, and sued to recover his paychecks.

    Otoh, if it turns out that all he did was use the company PC to set up a template, or something similar, I’d say “Drop it. It’s petty”.

    But right now, what I’d say is: wait for it. Let’s see some actual evidence of what Lee did (if he did anything), rather than speculate. Let’s not fight gossip-mongers with gossip.

  10. I updated the article to acknowledge that the metadata is not conclusive but merely suggestive.

  11. You also have consider the total editing time for the document is only 3 minutes.

  12. drconspiracy says:

    I think the most likely scenario is that the book’s introduction from Joe Arpaio was typed up by Lee, since Arpaio doesn’t know how to use a computer himself. That production would have Lee as the author and MSCO as the company. That Word document was then the one to which the rest of the book was pasted in by Jerome Corsi, the last person to save the document.

    I don’t think the template idea is plausible. Corsi has written many books and works for a publisher. If he wanted a template, he would not likely get it from a county sheriff’s office.

  13. point3r says:

    As to the properties on the e-book.

    The “author” of the document is generally assigned at original creation, and is not overwritten as the document is passed around for editing. But it also does not actually tell us about the computer it was created on, but about the information entered during the installation of the software. So, for example, it Zullo had been given an old laptop that had originally been Brian Lee’s (in the same way that the CCP drives old patrol cars purchased from the Sheriff’s office for $.50 a piece) and it carried the Microsoft Office software with it, then it will still show Lee as the Author and the MCSO as the company associated with any document that originated there.

    Bottom line, however, is that there is actually no evidence here that Lee ever touched the document. Only that it was originated on a computer running software that had originally been installed either by or for him at the MCSO.

    Corsi is shown as the last person to have edited the document. But we have no visibility into how many times the document was passed back and forth between Corsi and (presumably) Zullo. Now… the total editing time seems preposterously low, suggesting this is as the workflow:

    1A) The Sheriff’s prologue was either originally written on the “Lee” computer.

    -or-

    1B) A new document was created on the “Lee” computer and Arpaio’s prologue was pasted into it.

    2. The prologue was sent to Corsi.

    3. Corsi spent three minutes cutting and pasting in the rest of the document that had been created on his own machine, but in another file or files.

    I realize that step three is counter-intuitive, since it would make more sense to cut and paste the smaller portion (prologue) into the larger document… unless:

    The e-book existed as individual chapter files on Corsi’s machine and had to be assembled into a final consolidated document. In that case, three minutes of total editing time makes complete sense and records Corsi sequentially appending each subsequent chapter in order onto the prologue sent him by Zullo (or Lee or whomever).

  14. Hektor says:

    So, for example, it Zullo had been given an old laptop that had originally been Brian Lee’s (in the same way that the CCP drives old patrol cars purchased from the Sheriff’s office for $.50 a piece) and it carried the Microsoft Office software with it, then it will still show Lee as the Author and the MCSO as the company associated with any document that originated there.

    I agree that this could be the case, but it would indicate very poor IT management of not just the Cold Case Posse (which given their history of non-expert experts is a given) but also of the MCSO, which would be to me very surprising. When I did IT work for the government, we had very explicit procedures for disposing of used computers, which always involved a secure wipe of the hard disk to prevent the leaking of confidential information. If Lt. Lee’s computer was inherited by Mr. Zullo and wasn’t wiped, I would suggest that it would be a major privacy concern.

  15. Bart F. says:

    When Zullo said he gave the money to his church, isn’t that another way of paying off Carl Gallops?

Leave a Reply (Please see the RC Radio Blog comment policy). Your first comment will be moderated

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s